Bohemian Rhapsody is no Freddie Mercury biopic, unfortunately
For almost a decade now, Brian May of Queen has continually teased fans of the band about the highly anticipated Freddie Mercury biopic. For years, he’s been reassuring fans that the film would depict the reality of everything that unfolded throughout the band’s career, and, above all else, be true to lead singer Mercury’s legacy. Now that it’s here, after a long bumpy road of changing directors and lead actors, the film lives up to the band’s legacy, but it doesn’t live up to Mercury’s.
The film Bohemian Rhapsody is a one-to-one carbon copy of every biopic film that has been released in the last couple of years or so. From humble beginnings, to incredible highs, and tragic lows, audiences have seen it all. The film fails to prove its originality, which is sad to say about a film of one of the biggest bands in rock ‘n’ roll history. Hardcore Queen fans will notice the omissions of their trip to Sun City, Brazil, and Argentina due to the controversy it brought to the band in the ‘80s. Not only that, but the film switches certain events such as Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis being in 1985, right before their iconic Live AID performance, instead of 1987, when it actually happened. As a result of these changes, the film feels disingenuous to not only the fans, but to Mercury as well.
The film fails to accomplish what the fans have been promised, a biopic about Mercury’s career. However, lead actor Rami Malek is one of the few saving graces of this film, along with the rest of the cast, who portray their real-life counterparts so well.
Malek puts on a career-defining performance that makes the film bearable through its two-hour runtime. The Mr. Robot star has even been getting Oscars buzz. Although the performance is great, it’s definitely not Oscars-worthy.
Had it been a real biopic of Mercury’s life, Bohemian Rhapsody would’ve shown a glimpse of the nitty-gritty and insane lifestyle the band lived through — it would’ve benefited from an R rating, instead of the PG-13 rating it has. There is no driving motive in this entire film.
The film tries to use the band’s Live AID performance as its climax, which just falls flat — even if it does manage to raise a few goosebumps. The emotional failing is even further showcased with the film’s failure to portray Mercury in his battle with AIDS. It’s just mentioned, and that’s it. It fails to hold any significant weight.
Founding band members May and Roger Taylor are producers on Bohemian Rhapsody, and had a huge say in the process of making it — rightfully so, as it’s their legacy. It’s a shame, however, that audiences are spoon-fed the things that the remaining members of Queen want them to see.
The film has no idea whether it wants to be a Mercury biopic or Queen story. It feels like the latter. The film barely taps into Mercury’s outrageous rock star life that eventually led to his downfall. The film alludes to some of these instances, but never tackles them directly. Instead, Bohemian Rhapsody goes out on a mission to convince viewers why Queen is such an important band, which, in the end, comes off as pretentious.
The jumble of timing ultimately causes the movie to feel like such a disorganized cluster. For a movie that runs for over two hours, it doesn’t do enough to keep one interested, which shouldn’t be the case for a story about Mercury. There are times that the film just doesn’t do enough to explore who Mercury was as a person, which is a shame, because that’s what it tries to do.
One of the major things a Queen fan can really appreciate is the film’s accurate depiction of how great Mercury was as a musician. It’s often lost in all the crazy stories one hears about the flamboyant frontman, but along with having an amazing voice, Mercury composed “Bohemian Rhapsody” and wrote endearing songs like “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” It’s fitting for this film to give him recognition for his craftsmanship.
In the end, Bohemian Rhapsody feels like a typical flavor-of-the-week biopic that fails to live up to the legacy of the iconic Mercury. Instead, Bohemian Rhapsody is a sugar-coated story of Queen, featuring Mercury.
When Mercury was on his deathbed dying from AIDS, he told his publicist to never make him boring. If only he had said that to his bandmates.